As you may have read in the national news the police have now been granted additional powers when dealing with those accused of domestic violence against their partners or family regardless of whether any prosecution is ultimately brought. But what are these powers and what do they mean?
The powers can be used in two situations. The first which is issued by the police is called a Domestic Violence Protection Notice (DVPN). This is a notice served by the police to a person aged 18 years or over when the police believe that the person has been violent towards a partner or family member. The police do not need the permission of the person they believe to be affected by the violence to serve the order. A DVPN will include a number of different conditions that the person being served will need to abide by. They commonly include:
- not to contact a person named in the order by any means (this includes on the telephone, via a third party or by any social media)
- not to visit a particular address or go within a certain distance of it
This may require that the person being served with the order to move out of their home at once.
Such an order requires authorization from a police superintendent who has reasonable suspicion that a person has been violent towards an associated person and that the order is necessary to protect that person from further violence.
A DVPN is a temporary measure and the police must apply to a magistrate’s court within 48 hours of the notice being issued for a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO).
A DVPO can vary in length but is a minimum of 14 days and a maximum of 28 days and will include conditions similar to the DVPN such as preventing one from entering their own home or contacting their partner. The court can make a DVPO if they are satisfied that two conditions are met. They are:
- that on the balance of probabilities the person being served with the order has been violent or has threatened violence towards any person named in the application
- that making the order is necessary to protect the person named in the order from further violence or threats of violence
What is interesting to note is the wording ‘on the balance of probabilities’. This means that a lower standard of proof is required for a court to make the order compared to the Criminal standard of proof which is beyond all reasonable doubt.
If the Order is breached the police can arrest the person served with the DVPO if they have reasonable grounds to believe that a breach has taken place. In such cases, a person cannot be bailed and must be produced at the next available magistrate’s court. If the breach is proved then the Court can order them to pay a sum not exceeding £50 for every day during which they are in default up to a maximum of £5000 or commit them to custody for a period not exceeding 2 months.
These powers are still in their infancy and the police and courts are still getting to grips with them however they are being used more and more often without the ‘injured parties’ consent.